Many often wonder about the similarities, differences, and crossovers between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While both maintain levels of enforcement authority when a company is marketing and selling products, the parameters of operation can be confusing. On the other hand, they also have similarities that result in crossover authority.
To better understand the correlation and differentiation of the two, it’s necessary to break down what each agency stands for and the realms in which they operate.
What Products Does The FDA and FTC Oversee?
The FDA and FTC are responsible for several different products, including food, drugs, and cosmetics. A particular topic of focus for the FDA and FTC, however, is nutraceuticals.
Nutraceuticals are food products containing health-enhancing additives that have potential medical benefits. These products are typically considered non-specific biological therapies that are used to promote overall well-being. Nutraceuticals also have been shown to possess the ability to control specific symptoms and prevent the malignant transformation involved with cancerous cell growth.
Nutraceuticals are typically used to improve health, prevent chronic disease, support body functions, improve the overall integrity of the body, and even to postpone the aging process. These nutraceuticals can be grouped into categories including dietary supplements, functional food, medicinal food, and pharmaceuticals. Several nutraceuticals are proven to play crucial roles in immune status and conditions like:
- Alzheimer‘s disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Eye issues
- Parkinson‘s disease
What Is The FDA And What Are Their Duties?
The FDA is a government agency that is largely responsible for the health of the general public. They are in charge of applying laws and regulations to both human and veterinary drugs, as well as biological products, medical devices, the entire nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.
The FDA also promotes accurate, science-based information and technology to advance public health. They do this by financing and streamlining innovation efforts that make medicines safer, more effective, and more affordable.
What Is The FTC and What Are Their Duties?
Like the FDA, the FTC is also a government agency that is dedicated to protecting the general public by safeguarding American consumers. They promote competition by encouraging innovation and advancing consumer interests.
It is the duty of the FTC to stop unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent marketplace practices by conducting regular investigations and suing companies and individuals that violate consumer/retail law. The FTC is also in charge of educating consumers and business about the rights and responsibilities granted to them by law.
Along with protecting the rights of consumers, the FTC also plays a big role in developing competition amongst businesses by ensuring all markets are open and free. They do this by enforcing several antitrust laws. Any time an organization or retailer hikes prices, lowers product quality, diminishes choices, or plateaus on innovation rates; the FTC can challenge these motives in efforts to maintain healthy consumerism.
Where Do The FDA And The FTC Intersect?
In a broad sense, the FDA and the FTC play two different, yet parallel roles. The FTC is primarily responsible for verifying the claims made when companies advertise products. The FDA is primarily responsible for any claims being made while labeling and packaging these products.
What causes confusion, however, is determining the difference between labeling and advertising – a fine line in which even government officials are often unclear.
- Labeling: this is often referred to as any form of visual, audio, or other type of material that has a strong correlation to both the product and how the product is distributed and sold.
- Advertising: this is the marketing effort of the product via Internet, radio, television, etc. This advertising must be truthful, not misleading and frequently backed by scientific evidence (which is often times distributed by the FDA).
Though the two agencies operate under an intermediary agreement of differing primary enforcement responsibilities, these guidelines often fail to address grey areas of authority that arise as a result of a rapidly changing health trends in food development and marketing and communication efforts.
All in all, product marketers and manufacturers should comply with both FDA and FTC rules and regulations to avoid being fined and having particular products pulled from the market.